So in the last post we covered the main functions of search engine and how it influenced the need for SEO.
In this post, I'm going to cover ways that you can optimize your site using technical SEO.
Technical SEO can get pretty complex. There's a lot of depth in this topic, but knowing everything isn't necessary for you as a marketer.
You only need to focus on making sure your good with the main fundamentals of website performance.
These include things like hosting, page speeds and file sizes.
Let's go over some small - but powerful - actionable steps that you can take to dramatically impact your ranking in the search engine.
The majority will be focused around optimizing for Google (because it accounts for 90% of all online search traffic).
You can use this post as checklist. Tick off the steps you've already taken with your site and take action on the ones you haven't.
Here are the tips:
1: Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly
Last year Google updated their algorithm to favour sites that are mobile friendly. The sites that didn't have this were heavily penalised by the update, and saw their rankings fall flat.
Why? The answer is simple.
Mobile usage has surpassed desktop usage for the first time, meaning more people are spending time on the internet on their smartphone than on the computer.
If more people are finding sites via smartphone, a mobile friendly website design is vital to offer a pleasant experience to your visitors.
So how do you check whether your site's mobile friendly?
You can use Google's Mobile Friendly Test.
2: Test Your Page Speed
Google places a lot of emphasis on page speed as a ranking factor, and can penalise you if your pages load is 'sluggish'.
You could optimize everything else on your site, but if page speed doesn't meet Google requirements, your site will struggle to rank high.
A fraction of a second could hurt your businesses conversions. According to Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load within 3 seconds. 79% tend to abandon the site if it isn't loaded within this time.
Here's a couple tweaks to you can make to increase your page speed:
Optimize image files:
Keep all images in JPG (or GIF) format. You can use a tool like TinyPNG to further compress your images.
If you use WordPress, use the Smush.it plugin to automatically compress images on your site.
If you really want to save as much time as possible, I'd recommend also installing BJ Lazy Load. It delays image load until the user reaches it.
Minimize HTTP requests:
Your page load is the sum of element of your page being downloaded.
Each requires a HTTP request, so the more elements you have on your page the longer it takes to load.
In that case, the best thing to do is simplify your site:
- Use CSS instead of images
- Keep scripts at the bottom of your page
- Reduce or streamline the elements on your page
Reduce server response time:
Google rewards sites that have a response time below 200ms.
You can use monitoring tools like Yslow weekly to check that your site consistently meets this target. It also gives you feedback on how to improve your response score.
3: Choose A Reliable Web Hosting Service
Before even optimizing your site, It's important have a good hosting service. You want use a hosting service that has a good uptime and good servers.
A bad hosting with frequent downtimes can have a negative impact on your site's ranking.
User won't enjoy your experience, and they'll tend to bounce. When Google recognizes this, they will penalise you by dropping you down the ranks.
To measure uptime and other stats, you can use Uptime Robot.
4: Install Wordpress
Wordpress is the best CMS not just for it's incredible customer service, but its adaptation to on-page SEO.
It powers 27% of all websites on the internet.
One reason why Wordpress is largely preferred to as a CMS is due to its abundance of resources to better manage SEO.
As I mentioned earlier, SEO is a very complex topic and one which we, as marketers, can't afford to invest all of our time to master every element.
Worpress provides several plugins dedicated to making this area simpler and easier to optimize for anyone that has a site, without having to learn any coding.
5: Use Well Structured Links
Do you know if your links are website links are search engine friendly?
In the first post, I mentioned how search engines crawl on your site to collect data to store in its database.
Their ability to crawl everything on your site depends on whether it's able to understand the data.
So what's the difference between a friendly link and one that is not?
Having friendly links makes it easier for search engines to understand and index your site better.
This is because it includes the main keywords relatable to the content.
If you use WordPress, here are steps to change your URL structure:
Dashboard >> Settings >> Permalinks
Then choose "Post Name".
Alternatively you can go to:
Dashboard >> Pages >> Choose Any Post
… Then click on the "Edit" icon next to the permalink to change the structure.
6: Eliminate Crawl Errors
Crawl errors mean that something on your site is blocking crawlers from indexing it.
It's extremely important that you get on top the technical issue as this can hurt your sites ability to rank.
To remove these errors:
On your Google webmaster account go to Crawl >> Crawl Errors
Then find the source of the issue for each error and take additional steps to fix it. Moz gives a well in-depth guide on how to deal with the issue.
You may also want to check for these errors weekly using Googles Search Console for better maintenance.
7: Canonical URL's To Prevent Duplicate Content
Duplicate content makes it difficult for Google to decide which piece of content to present to users over the others.
Using canonical URLs are the best way to define the same content as two different pieces. This is an easy fix if you use the Wordpress plugin Yoast to fix this issue for you.
This will come in handy especially if you are a blogger, as you may have guest posts on other blogs that you want to upload on your website.
It's also great if you run an ecommerce store, where there may be products that are in more than one category.
As an alternative fix, you can eliminate duplicate content by using the meta robots tag: "noindex/follow"
The "noindex" value tells the search engine not to index the page, whilst the "follow" value allows it to still freely crawl links on the page.
8: Use A Whitelisted Hosting Service
You'll want to ensure that your hosting service isn't on a server that's blacklisted. This is a turn off to Google's algorithm and can put your ranking at risk no matter how much SEO you do.
All it takes is a simple check up on a tool like MXToolBox. Simply enter your sites domain in the search bar to see your results:
If your domain is detected as blacklised, evaluate the hosting service you're currently using and switch to a reliable one like Hostgator.
9: Set Up A Google Analytics To Measure Performance
There's no point in working on SEO if you can't track improvement, right?
Google Analytics provides you with all the data necessary to track website performance.
This is extremely handy if you're commited to a long term website like a blog or online store.
Plus it's completely free, and can be used to track your site visits, page views, bounce rate, average time on site and much more.
It's needed if you want to continuously improve your sites SEO.
All you need to do is create an account and copy the unique tracking code to your website. If you have WordPress Google Analytics Plugin you can set it all up using that.
10: Use Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
Adding on from tip #1, Google have created AMP to create a fast, exciting and more adaptable experience for your site.
These are lighter versions of your site that load super quick on a mobile phone.
With a rise in mobile usage compared to desktop, a shift in catering for mobile experience has become more a priority for Google and it's users.
Although it's not confirmed to have any effect to your ranking on Google, with such as increase in mobile usage demand and service it would make sense for mobile variations becoming an ultimate factor in the future.
You can use AMP WordPress plugin to enable this on your site.
Once you've activated it:
Go to Dashboard >> Appearance >> AMP
It'll show you how it will appear in AMP form.
And you can easily customize the colour of the text and heading. Once you're done, click "Save and Publish".
So Those Are 10 Steps For You To Take Immediate Action On...
It wasn't that complicated was it?
Now you can easily take action on each tip if you haven't already.
Technical SEO is more or less a process of activation, converting and testing your website to create a better optimized site as a whole.
By following these tips I've shown you here, you will have a well optimized page that search engine spiders can swim over and favour in the rankings.
On and Off page SEO is a little more different and longer process (don't worry it's not complicated either.
And if this wasn't enough for you and you want to more tips on how to game technical SEO, here's additional guides here you can read:
- Moz's 6 Technical SEO Strategy Tips for Better Traffic and Rankings [Site Architecture]
- 10 Ways to Speed Up Your Website – and Improve Conversion by 7%
- 16 of Bruce Clay's SEO Tips For Beginners
In the part of the series, we'll be looking at how to optimize your on-page SEO to deliver a better site performance and really push your position further up in the search engine.
(Or click here to go back and read Part 1: The Basics and Why It's So Important)